The college football season is just around the corner. Now that spring football is over a clearer picture of what could happen in 2019 is present. Here is the college football 2019 preseason top 25.
25. Nebraska Cornhuskers
It was a rough year for Nebraska last season, but they finished strong winning four of their last six games. Scott Frost got the ball rolling late in the year and will be looking to take that into next season. Adrian Martinez will look to take a step forward after starting as a freshman last season. Their 13 returning starters should help Nebraska get to a bowl game.
24. Washington State Cougars
At this point, it seems like Mike Leach has Washington State as a top 25 team every year. The Cougars have 13 returning starters to work with from a team that ranked 15th in scoring and 42nd in defense last season. The seven returning starters on offense will need to get used to Eastern Washington transfer Gage Gubrud, who figures to be the starting quarterback after a successful career in the FCS.
23. Syracuse Orange
The ACC is down, but Syracuse has taken advantage of that and won 10 games last season. Syracuse will be without one of their all-time greats in Eric Dungey, who graduated, but Tommy DeVito got some good reps at quarterback last season. With 13 returning starters, the Orange should look to be one of the top teams in the ACC again.
22. Miami Hurricanes
Miami came back down to earth last season, going 7-6, after a good year in 2017 under Mark Richt. Manny Diaz now takes over as head coach. He’ll have Ohio State transfer Tate Martell at quarterback, three four-year starters at linebacker and a total of 10 returning starters to work with. They should be the favorites in the ACC Coastal this season.
21. Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans went 7-6 last season and struggled to move the ball. They have 16 returning starters and one of the best defenses in the country. It will all come down to senior quarterback Brian Lewerke’s ability to move the ball.
20. Northwestern Wildcats
Pat Fitzgerald got Northwestern to the Big Ten Championship Game last season and nine wins. They return 13 starters, which includes standout linebacker Paddy Fisher. The Wildcats will get Clemson-transfer Hunter Johnson at quarterback this season who could lead them to another good season.
19. Utah Utes
The Pac-12 South is Utah’s for the taking. They went 9-5 last season and bring back 14 starters. Utah will have quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss as a good combo out of the backfield. They lost three starters on the offensive line, buy Kyle Whittingham has always been able to produce solid players in the trenches.
18. Stanford Cardinal
Stanford went 9-4 last season and only return eight starters from last season. They do however bring back players at key positions including quarterback K.J. Costello, Offensive tackle Walker Little, Tight End Colby Parkinson and cornerback Paulson Adebo. They’ll have to battle it out in a tough Pac-12 North, but should be able to compete.
17. Washington Huskies
Chris Petersen has once again lost a lot from his defense, but that hasn’t stopped him before. Washington has nine returning starters, seven on offense and two on defense. It will be tough for them to rank fifth in the country on defense, but the offense will get a shot in the arm by incoming Georgia transfer Jacob Eason at quarterback.
16. UCF Knights
While they did lose to LSU to snap their winning streak, UCF likely isn’t going to slow down. They have 11 returning starters and have a few options to start a quarterback since McKenzie Milton will likely not be ready to go for the opener. Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush and returning backup Darriel Mack will battle it out. They will have a lot of speed that will be hard for the rest of the AAC to keep up with. This season the Knights will get their shot against two Power 5 opponents: Stanford and Pitt.
15. Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin had a down year and still finished with eight wins in 2018. This season they can improve, even though just nine starters return, if their defense and passing game can step it up a little bit. Running back Jonathan Taylor will be running behind a good line that features a great center in Tyler Biadasz. Look for them to beat up on the majority of the Big Ten West teams and struggle with Ohio State and Michigan, as that seems to happen a lot for the Badgers.
14. Auburn Tigers
Gus Malzahn got some good news when defensive tackle Derrick Brown decided to return to school. Now, the Tigers could have the best defensive line in football. With 13 starters back, Gus Malzahn running the offense and an experienced defense, Auburn should be shooting for 10 wins this season.
13. Iowa Hawkeyes
They may only have nine starters back from last season, but Iowa is going to be one of the best teams in the trenches for this season. With offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs and defensive end A.J. Epenesa they’ll be winning a lot of battles. If senior quarterback Nate Stanley protects the ball and makes a few plays, making the Big Ten Championship won’t be out of reach.
12. Texas Longhorns
After winning the Sugar Bowl last season quarterback Sam Ehlinger said, “We’re back”. That was a good step, but there is still a lot to prove. Ehlinger will have wide receiver Collin Johnson and three other starters returning on offense to work with. The defense only has three returning starters, but this includes star safety Caden Sterns. The offense will have to put up a lot of points to compete for the Big 12, but that shouldn’t be an issue.
11. Texas A&M Aggies
In his first season in College Station, Jimbo Fisher exceeded expectations with nine wins. With 11 starters back and players who are more familiar with his system, the Aggies should be solid again. Last season, Kellen Mond took great strides at quarterback and he’ll have a great receiver to throw to in Kendrick Rogers. The defense has a lot of work to do, but Texas A&M should improve marginally this year under Fisher.
10. Oregon Ducks
Quarterback Justin Herbert was another player who surprisingly returned to school and in doing so, has made Oregon the favorites in the Pac-12. The Ducks have 14 returning starters from their 9-4 team a season ago. Their defense ranked 48th in scoring last season and will get a boost from one of the best recruits in the country, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. With a great season, this team could make a push for the College Football Playoff.
9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame played in the College Football Playoff last season and bring a variety of productive players back. Four starters from the offensive line are back and so is quarterback Ian Book, who took over for Brandon Wimbush last season and played well. Defensive ends Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara will provide great pressure on the quarterback, while cornerback Troy Pride Jr. and safety Alohi Gilman will lead the secondary. With those players back, the Fighting Irish could make the College Football Playoff again.
8. Florida Gators
The Gators had a good offense and defense last year, which helped them get to 10 wins under Dan Mullen. Quarterback Feleipe Franks took a step forward in his development last year and could be poised for a breakout year. With playmakers on every level of the defense, if the offense can score as much as they did last year, the Gators will push Georgia for the SEC East.
7. Ohio State Buckeyes
Ryan Day takes over as head coach for Urban Meyer. He’ll have a talented roster to work with, but winning the Big Ten East again won’t be easy. They’ll need to replace a lot on the offensive line and new quarterback, Georgia-transfer Justin Fields, will need to live up to the hype. The defense should improve with seven starters back for the season. The Buckeyes will be competing with their rival up north for another shot at the Big Ten Championship Game.
6. Michigan Wolverines
If there was a year for Michigan to take over in the Big Ten East, this would be it. Their rival will be breaking in a new coach and the Wolverines have 12 starters returning. Quarterback Shea Patterson will have a solid offensive line and a talented wide receiver core to throw to for the offensive output. The defense ranked 16th in scoring last season, but will have some new players to break in. Jim Harbaugh should take advantage of the situation in the Big Ten right now, or the fans may be calling for his head again at the end of the season.
5. LSU Tigers
Under the leadership of Ed Orgeron, LSU won 10 games last season including the Fiesta Bowl. They have a whopping 16 starters coming back to Baton Rouge for the upcoming season. Quarterback Joe Burrow helped improve the offense last season, but for LSU to win big games, he’ll need to take his game to another level. The defense was good last year and has eight key players back, including safety Grant Delpit, one of the best in the country. They may not be able to beat Alabama, but they are talented enough to beat just about anyone else on their schedule.
4. Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners needed a quarterback after Kyler Murray decided to go pro, and they got what they needed when Jalen Hurts transferred in. The offense may not be as effective through the air, but Oklahoma will be able to run the ball with Trey Sermons and Kennedy Brooks, especially with center Creed Humphrey leading the way. The defense was bad last season, but they return most key players, including linebacker Kenneth Murray.
3. Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia lost just one regular season game, but dropped the SEC Championship Game to Alabama and the Sugar Bowl to Texas to end the season on a sour note. Quarterback Jake Fromm is back for his third year under center, and while he’ll need new playmakers, Andrew Thomas will be protecting his blindside once again. Georgia’s defense will be led by their secondary, who have plenty of experience. If they can figure out the rest of the defense, Georgia will win the SEC East again.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide looked unstoppable after rolling through the competition en route to the National Championship Game. Clemson ended the Crimson Tide’s perfect season. Now, the Crimson Tide need to regroup. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returns and will need to shake off poor performances in the SEC Championship Game and National Championship Game. Alabama recruits well, so he’ll have a solid offensive line and one of the best receivers in college football in Jerry Jeudy. Raekwon Davis, Anfernee Jennings, Dylan Moses, Trevon Diggs and Patrick Surtain should help the Crimson Tide have another good year defensively.
1. Clemson Tigers
Dabo Swinney has created a college football powerhouse, as he led the Tigers to a National Championship again last season. Star quarterback Trevor Lawrence had a fantastic freshman season and will be spoiled with weapons. Running back Travis Etienne and wide receivers Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross are among the best in the country. Four starters are back on the offensive line as well. The defense has just four starters coming back, but Clemson reloads. Their top five defensive linemen are now in the NFL, so they will have to prove they have the depth and talent to make another run at a championship.